Gundam models, also known as Gunpla, are model kits by Bandai that represent the machines and people from the fictional Gundam world. Since most kits are made of plastic, the term “Gundam plastic model” is where the word Gunpla originates.
Beginning in the 1980s, these kits gained popularity among model builders and fans of mecha anime in Japan and other adjacent Asian nations. In the 1990s, Gundam modeling became widely popular as a result of exposure in North America and Europe via television, video, and manga.
On July 5, 1950, Naoharu Yamashina, a veteran of World War II, created Bandai as Bandai-Ya as the corporate spin-off of a wholesaler of textiles. Before distributing metal automobiles and model airplanes, the business started out as a dealer of metallic toys and rubber swimming rings. After changing its name to Bandai Co., Ltd. in 1961, company became very popular for producing action figures based on the anime Astro Boy.
Bandai Co., Ltd., a global Japanese toy producer and distributor with its headquarters in Tait, Tokyo, is the company that makes Gunpla. Its overseas divisions, Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America and Bandai UK, have their separate headquarters in Irvine, California, and Richmond, London. Bandai is a branch of Bandai Namco Holdings that is mostly responsible for producing toys. Video game systems were made by Bandai from 1981 to 2001.
Between 1980 and 1984, Bandai sold more than 100 million plastic Gundam models, and by May 1999, they had sold more than 300 million. Around the world, Bandai had reportedly sold 450 million copies of the almost 2,000 different Gundam models by 2015. Bandai Namco sold 714.84 million Gundam plastic model units as of March 2021, including 176.6 million SD Gundam units and 538.24 million normal Gundam units since 1980. (since 1987).
Gundam model kits come in a wide variety, although the bulk produced from the late 1980s onward – ordinary “plastic” kits – are produced and put together in a similar manner. Kits consist of a number of plastic components, decals, and occasionally other ornamental embellishments that the buyer must manually assemble to create the finished product.
On a “sprue tree,” which is a grid of interconnected plastic rods known as runners and generated by the channels in the mold that carried the molten plastic into the cavities that create each part, the plastic parts are delivered in the exact form they depart the injection molding machine. Each component has a little plastic “gate” at the point where the runner connects to the cavity that connects it to the runners.
To release each element from the excess plastic, the kit builder must first trim, carve, or sand away the plastic tip where the gates joined in order to leave a smooth surface. This is typically done with a pair of side-cutting pliers.
The builder must then snap the parts together to complete the model after they have been liberated. Early kits required glue, but starting in the late 1980s, all kits could be put together without any extra equipment or supplies.
Some kits use an internal frame, or a full “skeleton,” that is completely articulated and self-supporting, on which panels are then affixed to complete the mecha’s look.
The builder has a wide range of options for customizing the model when it comes to putting the panels together that make up its exterior. The most straightforward method is merely painting the model, which leaves plenty of room for individual creativity. The practice of applying decals is another prevalent one. Most models come with decals, but they are often sold separately for modification.
Over the years, a variety of Gundam plastic models have been created, ranging from static, immobile display pieces that cannot be moved once constructed to fully poseable, highly articulated models with replaceable parts (weapons, shields, etc.) and extensive mechanical engineering.
All of the elements attach to one another without the use of glue or tools thanks to a variety of joints including ball-and-socket pivots or posts that snugly fit into holes in other components. Models are made to be posed for show, but their joints are not made to withstand play like that of action figures; even after slight position modifications, pieces can fall free and need to be pushed back together.
Plastic materials are used in components, with each part’s requirements taken into account. Parts for a certain unit, such as a foot or leg, may be composed of several different materials. To give a basic color scheme for the finished model, Bandai casts colored pigment into each part, eliminating the need for the builder to paint it if they choose not to.
Model kits for Gundams can be created from a variety of materials.
The thermoplastics ABS, polypropylene, and polystyrene are typically used in mass-market kits. These snap-fit models, which are referred to as “plastic” models in the community, are put together.
Bandai, which has an exclusive license to produce and market plastic Gundam model kits globally, produces them in China or Japan.
The builder must use glue to assemble a less popular sort of kit known as a garage kit or resin kit, which is manufactured from a thermoset resin, often polyurethane, and is frequently just referred to as “resin.” Since resin kits represent a tiny proportion of the product line, many other claims made in this page will also not apply to them.
Garage kits, a cottage industry that existed before gunpla and got their name from amateur or small-scale makers, have since been replaced by Bandai’s B-Club brand with some first-party Gundam resin kits. Due to the inherent limits of the production process, these unpainted resin models frequently need to have touch-up work done by the builder and do not come with decals.
Compared to plastic kits, they are comparable to more expensive (some costing over $400) and more difficult to put together, but they offer greater detail for the devoted and seasoned model builder.
A few high-end kits have even been made of metal. These kits are available from a number of different suppliers, and the finished model will typically be around MG level. The construction of these models typically takes days.
Similar to hobby models based on real military equipment, Gundam models are meant to be “scaled down” reproductions of authentic designs, depending on the dimensions mentioned in the fiction. When compared to the size that the machine would have if it were built, these scales are expressed as a ratio. When the ratio is 1:10, for instance, every inch of the model’s height equates to 60 inches of the actual machine’s height.
Kits normally available in sizes between 4 and 5 inches for small-scale models, 6 to 8 inches for medium-scale models, and 12 inches for large-scale models.
Bandai uses a grade system to indicate a model’s general level of detail. There are numerous variants available in different grades, each of which features a different amount of part detail on the same hypothetical machine but with a comparable overall aesthetic. For instance, a High Grade (or HG) model will have significantly less detail than a Master Grade (or MG). The two models are different sizes, with the HG being around two inches smaller than the MG.
The majority of models within a grade utilize the same scale to the point where the term “grade” is frequently used to refer to both, though this is not always the case. The scale of “Perfect Grade” models, for example, is normally 1:60, while “High Grade” models are typically 1:144. However, there are “High Grade” models that are 1:60 but have inferior detail to a 1:60 “Perfect Grade,” and vice versa.
A High Grade model from one year may be inferior to a re-release from several years later as models are re-released throughout time. Consequently, a model’s grade does not entirely reflect its quality. Although grades have no official definition, they typically get better over time.
As an illustration, the RX-78 has been released as an HG model on various occasions, with each iteration showcasing even finer details than the one before it. similar to how an HG model right now can seem superior to a PG model from a few years ago.
Building model Gundams is a popular hobby all around the world. Participants can choose to build kits exactly as they are marketed, add a little personalization with paint and decals, or combine parts from several kits with specially produced items and elaborate, multi-layer paint jobs to create nearly original works.
Like any hobby, gunpla building can be quite time-consuming and expensive, but since model kits can be purchased for as little as $20 USD and don’t require any specialized equipment, there is little barrier to entrance.
Using methods used in other small model-based hobbies like model railroading and wargaming, some hobbyists create dioramas around completed models. A mecha may be shown in a diorama engaged in combat, receiving repair, or even being destroyed in battle.
Gunpla Builders World Cup, an annual international competition, is held by Bandai in at least 16 nations. Trophies and model kits are presented to winners.
One of the most well-known Japanese franchises of all time, Gundam has a long history. Similar assistance is provided for its models, which use sturdy design procedures that have been improved over many years to reliably deliver high-quality goods. Find a model you want and have fun making it because gundams are beginner-friendly, especially the simpler variants.